Dec. 29, 2017
By Dan Colleran
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Eight former Notre Dame hockey players have appeared in the National Hockey League thus far in the 2017-18 season, led by the NHL’s third-leading scorer Anders Lee.
Lee has 22 goals and he trails only Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov (24) and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (24) in that department. Playing on the top line for the New York Islanders with Josh Bailey and John Tavares, Lee has added 15 assists for 37 points in 37 games.
Last season, Lee scored 34 goals for the Islanders to set the record for goals in an NHL season by a former Irish player.
READ: How chose hockey over football (SNY.tv)
— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) December 7, 2017
Additional Irish alums to appear in the NHL this season include, back-to-back defending Stanley Cup Champions Ian Cole and Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh), rookie Anders Bjork (Boston), Vince Hinostroza (Chicago), Stephen Johns (Dallas), Kyle Palmieri (New Jersey) and Riley Sheahan (Pittsburgh).
- Bjork became the 17th former Irish player under Jeff Jackson to reach the NHL and the program’s 31st overall when Boston opened the season with a home win against Nashville on Oct. 5 (Bjork had an assist in that win).
- Bjork, who missed some time due to injury, has scored four goals and added eight assists for 12 points in 27 games.
“It’s an amazing feeling.”
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) October 15, 2017
- Cole, who also dealt with an injury earlier this season, has played in 31 games for Pittsburgh, notching two goals and four assists for six points.
- Hinostroza, who had 22 points in 23 games to start the season in Rockford (AHL), was recalled by the Blackhawks on Dec. 8 and scored his first NHL goal of the year at Winnipeg on Dec. 14.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) December 15, 2017
- Stephen Johns, who has three goals and three assists from the Dallas blue line, skated in his 100th career NHL game earlier this season (now has 110 GP in the NHL).
- Palmieri got off to a hot start by notching four goals and five assists in his first 13 games of the season but he was sidelined with an injury for almost a month and he returned to New Jersey’s lineup on Dec. 18.
- Palmieri netted his 100th career goal against Washington on Oct. 13.
- Playing his fourth season with the Penguins, Bryan Rust (4-14-18) already has a career-high 14 assists in 38 games, but head coach Mike Sullivan announced on Dec. 28 that Rust would be out with an upper body injury.
- Sheahan was traded from Detroit to Pittsburgh on Oct. 21, where he joined former teammates Cole and Rust
- At Notre Dame, Sheahan played with Cole during the 2009-10 season and with Rust during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.
- Since being traded, Sheahan has scored three goals and added eight assists for 11 points in 29 games.
- Last season (2016-17), a program-record 10 former Notre Dame hockey players played in the NHL (nine was the previous high in 2011-12).
- The 2016-17 season also included several stretches where eight former Irish players were in the league at the same time, marking the first time in program history eight former players were on active NHL rosters at the same time.
- Also during the 2016-17 season, Rust became the third former Irish player to record a NHL hat trick, joining Palmieri (1) and Dave Poulin (5)
- With Pittsburgh winning the 2017 Stanley Cup, Rust and Cole became the third and fourth former Irish players to win back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships, joining Bill Nyrop (Montreal `76-`77-’78) and Don Jackson (Edmonton `84-’85).
— ND —
Dan Colleran, Director of Athletics Communications at the University of Notre Dame, has been a part of Fighting Irish Media since August 2015 and coordinates all media and publicity efforts surrounding the Notre Dame hockey and golf programs. A native of Walpole, Massachusetts, Colleran spent the previous three years working with the men’s hockey and soccer programs at Providence College. Colleran also spent two years as an Assistant Executive Director of Communications & Championships at the Ivy League and is a graduate of Providence College (’06 & ’08G).